Today in the land of IncGovia we’re in the pub firing questions at Orsolya Toth (O), PR and community manager and Viktor Juhász (V), narrative designer and lead writer, about NeocoreGames’ The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 1 & 2! Cheers!
IG: So, where did the inspiration come from to make The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing? From the film(s)?
V: There are plenty of literary works and movies that affected us, but the most important sources are Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the movie and the novel), Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde and all sorts of classical gothic stories. I particularly liked the atmosphere of The Brotherhood of the Wolf (which is a great French movie) so there might be glimpses of that too somewhere.
IG: Did you think about using Kickstarter to fund The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing?
O: It did cross our minds, yes. But we decided not to take that route because a Kickstarter campaign would have taken up too much time in the beginning from the actual development and we didn’t feel we were known enough in the industry to easily draw people in. We couldn’t really find the game’s place in the so popular stretch goal system either when Kickstarter reached its true potential and the game already started to shape up nicely anyway. To be honest, we never really thought it through as a real option.
Although a crowd funding might have made things easier for us of course, we didn’t really need it. Fortunately, we were able to fund the development on our own so we wanted to keep it that way. However, around the game’s beta stage we launched a pre-order page with different support packs where our fans could support us in the last stages of development and it truly helped a lot. We might consider crowd funding in the future though if we’ll have a project we can’t start on our own.
IG: How did you come up with all those witty and funny moments like the Domovoy Baggins, the two-headed cow or the epic chicken egg drop etc?
V: Fortunately the dark humour in Van Helsing made it a perfect playground for us to include all sorts of popcultural references from games, movies, books and turn them into secret and funny easter eggs that we love so much.
IG: What’s your favourite thing about The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing?
O: I particularly enjoy the banters between Van Helsing and Katarina. They give the adventures liveliness and fun. As the two of them keep teasing each other players can see their characters shaping up and start to feel attached to them.
IG: Sword or gun, what’s your weapon of choice?
V: Anything that kills the monster…
IG: …and gets the loot fast, good point. Were there any ideas that didn’t make it into the game?
O: Yes, of course. There always are. But most of them were excluded because they did not fit into the game’s base concept, or so we thought. For example the character classes and the significantly different gear: our protagonist is Van Helsing, a cool monster hunter with a strong character and we felt it would be strange to start his adventures with choosing from different classes with very different looks and outfit (cape, hat, weapons) – just like it would have been strange to start Bastion for example with a totally different character. So we decided for a single but bigger and branching monster-hunter class where players are able to choose the way they want their Van Helsing to follow on the skill tree, creating the specific classes as they develop their character.
First, we also thought about a more complex story, quests with deeper choices and characters with actual background: in this regard we wanted to go as far as the genre allowed. In the early stages we tested the game with a complex quest system but we were afraid it might be too much and tiresome for the hardcore ARPG community, as an action RPG is not a traditional RPG after all. So we decided to add some jokes and cut back on the complexity of the story and the quest system. After the game’s release, however, we got extremely positive feedback on the characters, the conversations and the humour and many fans would have been happy about a deeper story and a more branching quest system. Looking back, these might not have been the wisest decisions as a lot of fans were missing these features from the game, but hey, that’s why it’s good to make a series – we really want to listen to the feedback and wishes of our fans and we still have a few surprises in store for them. :).
IG: Could you tell us some of your processes on creating atmospheres (the setting, music, colour scheme etc) for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing?
O: We start out with the narrative design, which is basically world- and storybuilding. The designers create a design concept and plan the basics of the levels. It is followed by the graphical concept and the creation of the actual levels. Then it goes through a lot of polishing where we put together the graphics, the music (which is composed based on the graphical concept), the sound effects of the surroundings and last but not least, we insert all the elements of the quests into this atmosphere and we test it a lot. During the testing we try to find out where to add some extras like some humour or easter eggs.
IG: Hat or cloak?
O: The hat, of course. Always the hat…
IG: One never has enough time to try them all. Can you tell us about the game engine you used, is it custom? Turn-key with enhancements?
O: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing has a brand new, in-house developed engine that uses the experience we gathered from the development of our two previous game engines.